Bellbird - IFFAM - 4th International Film Festival and Awards ‧ Macao

New Zealand | 2019 | 96’ | DCP | Colour | English | Group: B
Director: Hamish Bennett

2019/12/07 17:00 Macao Cultural Centre Small Auditorium

Programmer’s Note

There’s a warmth to New Zealand comedy/drama Bellbird that occasionally fires up like a furnace. First-time feature film-maker and teacher Hamish Bennett expands on his short Ross & Beth to revisit the enveloping world of taciturn Northland farmers. When Beth dies suddenly, Ross and his equally monosyllabic son Bruce are cut adrift; there’s a hope and expectation that Bruce will take over the family business, but he loves his work at the local dump and isn’t a natural farmer. Or a talker, much like his dad. There’s some great parts here for Rachel House (as Bruce’s boss) and young Kahukura Retimana as a Maori teenager who is passionate about the land, but this slow embrace of a film belongs to the father and son combo played so sympathetically by Marshall Napier and Cohen Holloway. That and the farm and its scene-stealing four-legged inhabitants, shot with sympathy by Grant McKinnon.

– Fionnuala Halligan


Ross is a man of few words, and when his wife Beth suddenly dies, so does his spirit. His son Bruce is reluctant to change his own life to help run the farm but can see his father struggling, both physically and emotionally. When young Marley keeps turning up to help Ross with the daily milking, he ignores Ross’s sullen moods. Beth was Marley’s teacher and friend, so he is quietly determined to stick around and help out. Local Connie is also in for the long haul and they come together with others in the community to share the load, but Ross is reluctant to accept their help. Almost a year after Beth’s death the situation unexpectedly comes to a head and Ross has to finally connect with his own grief and let go. He realises he has the support he needs to continue and that his son Bruce needs to find his own place in the world.


Hamish Bennett

Hamish Bennett is a New Zealand film-maker of Māori descent and a fulltime school teacher. His first short The Dump, won Best Short Script at the NZ Writers Guild Awards in 2012. His second short Ross & Beth won the Jury and Audience prizes at the 2014 New Zealand International Film Festival. Bellbird is his first feature, and is set in the small rural Northland community where he grew up.

Cast & Crew

Director Hamish Bennett

Scriptwriter(s) Hamish Bennett

Producer(s) Orlando Stewart, Catherine Fitzgerald

Cinematographer Grant McKinnon

Production Designer Shayne Radford

Editor Jason Pengelly

Music Karl Steven

Costumes Designer Emily Carter

Cast Marshall Napier, Cohen Holloway, Rachel House, Kahukura Retimana, Stephen Tamarapa, Annie Whittle

Production Companies Stella Maris Productions Ltd., Herringbone Productions Ltd., Blueskin Films


World Sales LevelK Film

International Competition